Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Geology and Geological Engineering

First Advisor

Lance Yarbrough

Relational Format



Proppant is a media used in hydraulic fracturing to bear in-situ stresses in order to maintain fracture networks, which act as highly permeable pathways for hydrocarbon recovery. Proppant can be made from a variety of materials such as glass, ceramic beads, sand particles, and more. Proppants are characterized by their size, sorting, roundness, and sphericity. These properties help determine the compressive strength of the pack proppant. This study focuses on these properties for natural sand. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the viability of lower-quality sands as proppant sands by testing the affect these properties have on the compressive strengths of each sample. Testing is in accordance with ISO 13503-2 (2006) and ISO 13503-2 Amendment 1 (2009). These standards state that sands used as proppant should generate no more than 10% fines during crush tests. This study tested five sand samples: one commercial-grade proppant, two Mississippi-sourced sands, one recreational sand, and one composite sample made from two previously tested samples. This study found that sand particles are more prone to generating fines if they are coarser and more angular, but the sub-angular specimen did meet strength requirements at lower stresses. This study also found success mixing two proppants to create a proppant that generated fewer fines than either of its parent sands. Mica grains in one of the Mississippi-sourced sands affected the compressive strength of the sample. Anomalous fine generation curves occurred for multiple sands, showing decreasing fine generation at increased stresses, and may be attributed to testing complications. Expanded study to reproduce and verify results is recommended, as well as removing mica from samples in future studies.



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